LEXINGTON, Ky. (March11, 2010) − First-graders from Fayette and surrounding counties had a chance to learn about how to take care of their teeth in fun and creative ways at the annual ExplorASmile Program at Explorium of Lexington, the children's museum, the week of Feb. 22-26. Again this year, the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry (UKCD) is partnering with the Bluegrass Dental Society (BGDS) to extend the program to include a "Day of Treatment.” One hundred children have been invited back on Saturday, March 13 for free dental services performed by UKCD students, residents, faculty and community practitioners.
"The Bluegrass Dental Society has been screening children at the museum for many years and now we are able to provide free care to needy children through our collaboration and the generosity of Johnson & Johnson and Nashville Dental, Inc.," said Sharon Turner, Dean of the College of Dentistry. "Dr. Fonda Robinson and others have worked tirelessly to make sure this is a positive experience for everyone involved. She and Denise Schneider, the executive director of the BGDS have truly taken this activity to a new level as we join thousands of other dentists and dental educators in the annual 'Give Kids a Smile' program. It is anticipated that even more children will be served this year than were treated last year."
The weeklong screening event was a field trip for children planned by their teachers. Some of the children have never been to a dentist and Mike Gilmore, executive director at Explorium of Lexington said the goal of the event is to take the fear and stress out of going to the dentist. "The kids love it and it's a fun day for them," Gilmore said. "They talk about what they are afraid of and they get good information that will take them through the rest of their lives. They learn it's their mouth and their responsibility to take care of it."
The school groups move through a rotation of fun activities during the screening days which includes a puppet show put on by volunteers and UK dental students that teaches kids how to make good choices, such as what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. A tooth fairy and "Mr. Sparkle," a giant blue blob of toothpaste, teach the kids how to brush properly. Crafts include making teeth out of paper bags and how to make toothpaste if there is none at home.
The UK and BGDS Day of Treatment will be held on Saturday, March 13th at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. In the teaching clinics at UK College of Dentistry, children’s dental services are available at low rates year round and are Medicaid and Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) providers.